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READ COMMENTS: What others are saying about leafblowers (Dustblowers).

From Sacremento

November 4, 2013

Andrew M. Skeels, Sanford, Florida USA, , , Leaf blowers should be banned due to several health reason. All the filth and contagion that is deposited on the sidewalks and driveways/streets on a daily basis belongs there on the ground until it is swept up. Not blown back into the atmosphere only to be breathed in to our lungs causing severe respiratory illnesses that can cause death to many people. Blowers kick up dehydrated spores that grow in your lungs. Spores from feces, urine, spit, black mold, decaying garbage and many more nasty things. If everyone would sweep their areas and deposit the crap in a trash can we would have less respiratory deaths and illnesses and less pain and suffering. Blowing is a lazy man's thing or just trying to save time. I have banned my home owner's association yard service from blowing anything in to my home or driveway and I do this by sweeping the crap up before they can get their nasty noisy little leaf blowers to my property. They have already been served with warnings that they said they would abide by.

LETTER TO LEAFBLOWER WORKERS
AND TO THE
Association of Latin American Gardeners

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE MANUFACTURERS OF LEAF BLOWERS !
The manufacturers of leafblowers (dustblowers) are spending thousands of dollars to influence the workers, who operate leaf blowers. They are saying that those who oppose leaf blowers are insulting the intelligence of the workers; that they are racists. This is false, there are many valid reasons to ban leafblowers and none of them have anything to do with racism, or cutting jobs.

They, the manufacturers, are the ones who are the racists and are insulting the workers intelligence with their propaganda. They are jeopardizing the lives of the workers who are exposed to it daily. They care only about selling leaf blowers, no matter how it affects the health of the people subjected to the small particles blown into the air.

If they cared about you, they would manufacture vacuum machines, instead of blowers. They care only about selling leaf blowers, no matter how it affects the health of the people subjected to the small particles blown into the air. They are jeopardizing the lives of the workers, and all of the people, who are exposed to the tiny particles in the air caused by dustblowers.

Most workers get paid by the hour; so it doesn't matter whether they rake or blow, however, contractors are paid by the job. The quicker they finish one job, the quicker they can get to the next one. The propaganda spread by the manufacturers is that the workers will lose their jobs if leaf blowers are banned. How was it done before leaf blowers? Didn't they have jobs raking? The leaves will still be there. I think that is an insult to the workers intelligence to make them believe they will lose their jobs.

If you agree with the above, and you speak Spanish, talk to these workers about the health hazards and what the manufacturers are doing to their health. Better yet, write fliers in Spanish and pass them out to the workers.

I found this post online about the affect on solar panels:
In this current age of green thinking, there is another major problem with leaf blowers, and that is the dirt that is deposited on your newly installed solar panels daily by leaf blowers. The efficiency of Solar panels are rapidly diminished when the panels are covered in dirt and dust. They must be washed off frequently to avoid losing their effectiveness. Since virtually all solar panels are installed on the roof, they are very difficult to clean without paying a professional to climb up there to do the job. Ever wonder why your panels aren’t providing as much energy as they did when first installed?

Leaf blowers pose serious hazards to their users. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration considers noise above 85 decibels dangerous; leaf blowers register at 90 decibels and above. And even though manufacturers recommend wearing protection at all times, gardeners regularly work without protective headphones. Many don't wear respiratory gear, an omission with significant health risks, considering the machine stirs up dangerous dust, including airborne feces and allergens such as molds and pollens.

"Blowers churn up clouds of fuel exhaust mixed with debris that should be left on the ground," argues Menlo Park ban supporter Cheryl Zaslawsky, "such as pesticides, animal droppings, bacteria, mold spores, brake dust and more." The American Lung Association recommends that passersby avoid blowers if possible, especially if they suffer from respiratory problems.

And on the far end of the alarmist spectrum comes this: Leaf blowers are killing babies. At least so claims an attorney for an anti-blower group in Los Angeles, arguing in a recent court brief: "Approximately 45 babies a year die from SIDS [Sudden Infant Death Syndrome] in Los Angeles due to airborne particulate matter and many of those deaths are attributed to dust from gas-powered leaf blowers."

In addition to dust, the blowers emit other particulates. The lung association considers air pollution caused by leaf blowers an even more serious problem. According to Margaret Leathers, executive director of the association's local chapter, leaf blowers generate as much pollution in one hour as driving a car 100 miles. In the Bay Area alone, blowers account for 1.4 tons a day of smog-forming compounds and 15 tons of carbon monoxide.

To those who say rates would go up without blowers, consider this: did these same gardeners lower their rates in the 1980s after they began using blowers?

When testifying before the Assembly Local Government Committee, landscape contractor Barbara Alvarez accidentally conceded that she would have to hire more workers if blowers were banned. (She then awkwardly tried to correct herself, telling the committee she would have to charge more money, thereby losing customers and hiring fewer workers.) To blower haters, it's simple. "They have conned these gardeners into thinking that they need these machines," Orta says with exasperation. "They don't."

Orta and other ban proponents such as Zaslawsky dismiss the whole race issue as a red herring. "To win against the proposed ban," Zaslawsky argues, "the opposition needs to change the subject, because there's nothing they can say to defend the blower itself."

Blower-haters suspect the aptly named Echo Inc., the country's leading leaf-blower manufacturer, of inciting hysteria among gardeners to protect its investment. Tensions between poor immigrant gardeners and wealthy, noise-hating suburbanites didn't boil to the surface until Los Angeles muzzled the machines last year at the urging of Hollywood celebrities.

Coincidence? Myra Orta thinks not. "I wouldn't put it past [Echo lobbyist Robin] Pendergrast" to turn the debate into a Latino race issue. "It's a clever idea," she says.

Such comments--suggesting gardeners are being used by leaf-blower manufacturers and vendors as a public relations ploy to disguise their more base profit motive--make Huerta's blood boil. "We feel those comments are racist," Huerta says, "because it implies gardeners aren't intelligent enough to organize themselves."

Pendergrast, however, attributes the tensions sparked by the Los Angeles ordinance--which prohibits gas-powered leaf blowers within 500 feet of a residence--to the peculiarities of the situation there. "What made this ban unique," Pendergrast explains, "was that it happened in one of the largest U.S. cities, was backed by a minority of famous actors and actresses, but affected working-class minorities who operate small landscape and gardening businesses."

Until Los Angeles exiled the ear-whackers last year, leaf-blower bans were generally confined to small, wealthy suburban towns like Carmel, Piedmont and Los Altos.

If you agree with the above, and you speak Spanish, talk to these workers about the health hazards and what the manufacturers are doing to their health. Better yet, write fliers in Spanish and pass them out to the workers.

********************************

An excerpt from the next article below:

            When testifying before the Assembly Local Government Committee, landscape contractor Barbara Alvarez accidentally conceded that she would have to hire more workers if blowers were banned. (She then awkwardly tried to correct herself, telling the committee she would have to charge more money, thereby losing customers and hiring fewer workers.) Tothe ban leafblowers advocates, it's simple. "They have conned these gardeners into thinking that they need these machines," Orta says with exasperation. "They don't."

SOLAR PANELS
Found this post online about the affect on solar panels:
In this current age of green thinking, there is another major problem with leaf blowers, and that is the dirt that is deposited on your newly installed solar panels daily by leaf blowers. The efficiency of Solar panels are rapidly diminished when the panels are covered in dirt and dust. They must be washed off frequently to avoid losing their effectiveness. Since virtually all solar panels are installed on the roof, they are very difficult to clean without paying a professional to climb up there to do the job. Ever wonder why your panels aren’t providing as much energy as they did when first installed?

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT LEAF BLOWERS

Administration considers noise above 85 decibels dangerous; leaf blowers register at 90 decibels and above. And even though manufacturers recommend wearing protection at all times, gardeners regularly work without protective headphones.

Many also don't wear respiratory gear, an omission with significant health risks considering the machine stirs up dangerous dust, including airborne feces and allergens such as molds and pollens.

"Blowers churn up clouds of fuel exhaust mixed with debris that should be left on the ground," argues Menlo Park ban supporter Cheryl Zaslawsky, "such as pesticides, animal droppings, bacteria, mold spores, brake dust and more."

The American Lung Association recommends that passersby avoid blowers if possible, especially if they suffer from respiratory problems.

And on the far end of the alarmist spectrum comes this: Leaf blowers are killing babies. At least so claims an attorney for an anti-blower group in Los Angeles, arguing in a recent court brief: "Approximately 45 babies a year die from SIDS [Sudden Infant Death Syndrome] in Los Angeles due to airborne particulate matter and many of those deaths are attributed to dust from gas-powered leaf blowers."

In addition to dust, the blowers emit other particulates. The lung association considers air pollution caused by leaf blowers an even more serious problem. According to Margaret Leathers, executive director of the association's local chapter, leaf blowers generate as much pollution in one hour as driving a car 100 miles. In the Bay Area alone, blowers account for 1.4 tons a day of smog-forming compounds and 15 tons of carbon monoxide.

To those who say rates would go up without blowers, consider this: did these same gardeners lower their rates in the 1980s after they began using blowers?

When testifying before the Assembly Local Government Committee, landscape contractor Barbara Alvarez accidentally conceded that she would have to hire more workers if blowers were banned. (She then awkwardly tried to correct herself, telling the committee she would have to charge more money, thereby losing customers and hiring fewer workers.) To blower haters, it's simple. "They have conned these gardeners into thinking that they need these machines," Orta says with exasperation. "They don't."

Orta and other ban proponents such as Zaslawsky dismiss the whole race issue as a red herring. "To win against the proposed ban," Zaslawsky argues, "the opposition needs to change the subject, because there's nothing they can say to defend the blower itself."

Blower-haters suspect the aptly named Echo Inc., the country's leading leaf-blower manufacturer, of inciting hysteria among gardeners to protect its investment. Tensions between poor immigrant gardeners and wealthy, noise-hating suburbanites didn't boil to the surface until Los Angeles muzzled the machines last year at the urging of Hollywood celebrities.

Coincidence? Myra Orta thinks not. "I wouldn't put it past [Echo lobbyist Robin] Pendergrast" to turn the debate into a Latino race issue. "It's a clever idea," she says.

Such comments--suggesting gardeners are being used by leaf-blower manufacturers and vendors as a public relations ploy to disguise their more base profit motive--make Huerta's blood boil.

"We feel those comments are racist," Huerta says, "because it implies gardeners aren't intelligent enough to organize themselves."

Pendergrast, however, attributes the tensions sparked by the Los Angeles ordinance--which prohibits gas-powered leaf blowers within 500 feet of a residence--to the peculiarities of the situation there. "What made this ban unique," Pendergrast explains, "was that it happened in one of the largest U.S. cities, was backed by a minority of famous actors and actresses, but affected working-class minorities who operate small landscape and gardening businesses."

Until Los Angeles exiled the ear-whackers last year, leaf-blower bans were generally confined to small, wealthy suburban towns like Carmel, Piedmont and Los Altos.

LEAF BLOWERS
The machines generate unacceptable amounts of air and noise pollution while doing little more than pushing debris into the air, city streets and gutters. According to Regional Air Council studies, 6 percent of the volatile organic compound pollutants in the skies above the Denver-metro area is generated by hand-held, gas-powered tools.

Leaf blowers are more accurately dust blowers; they blow dust from one place to another, containing fertilizers, pesticides, dog and cat fecal matter, top soil, etc. Help reduce air contaminants by banning the leaf blower.

The use of blowers is currently illegal in 20 major California cities, including Los Angeles, Hermosa Beach, Lawndale, Lomita, Santa Monica, Malibu, Beverly Hills, Claremont, South Pasadena and Santa Barbara for one simple reason: they are hazardous to our health. To find out How to Help click on the colored text. Let's get these ozone offenders off our streets!

Also, we have included information on How Your Neighbors Feel about Leaf Blowers. There are people in the community taking action against this problem. We have also compiled a more regional list of How others feel about leaf blowers from around the country. For your convenience, we have compiled the Top Ten Reasons why leaf blowers must go!

Feel free to the read The Daily Breeze or The Beach Reporter. It's full of information on what happened at the Manhattan Beach City Council meeting! Also, you can read Jefferson Graham's speech to the Manhattan Beach City Council from June 18, 1998.

We would love to hear you questions and comments. Feel free to Contact us via E-mail.We enjoy feedback!  To voice your opinion directly, contact the Manhattan Beach City Council to let them know how you feel about leaf blowers in our town. (If you're a resident, add your address and phone number, please.)

AND WHAT POLITICAL debate of the late 20th century would be complete without a mention of health and safety? Orta is first in line to point out that leaf blowers pose serious hazards to their users. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration considers noise above 85 decibels dangerous; leaf blowers register at 90 decibels and above. And even though manufacturers recommend wearing protection at all times, gardeners regularly work without protective headphones.

Many also don't wear respiratory gear, an omission with significant health risks considering the machine stirs up dangerous dust, including airborne feces and allergens such as molds and pollens.

"Blowers churn up clouds of fuel exhaust mixed with debris that should be left on the ground," argues Menlo Park ban supporter Cheryl Zaslawsky, "such as pesticides, animal droppings, bacteria, mold spores, brake dust and more."

The American Lung Association recommends that passersby avoid blowers if possible, especially if they suffer from respiratory problems.

And on the far end of the alarmist spectrum comes this: Leaf blowers are killing babies. At least so claims an attorney for an anti-blower group in Los Angeles, arguing in a recent court brief: "Approximately 45 babies a year die from SIDS [Sudden Infant Death Syndrome] in Los Angeles due to airborne particulate matter and many of those deaths are attributed to dust from gas-powered leaf blowers."

In addition to dust, the blowers emit other particulates. The lung association considers air pollution caused by leaf blowers an even more serious problem. According to Margaret Leathers, executive director of the association's local chapter, leaf blowers generate as much pollution in one hour as driving a car 100 miles. In the Bay Area alone, blowers account for 1.4 tons a day of smog-forming compounds and 15 tons of carbon monoxide.

Leaf Blowers Are Hazardous to Your Health.
Here are three reasons why these ozone offenders should be banned. More reasons after this article.

1.Air Pollution. A gasoline-powered leaf blower generates as much tailpipe emissions in one hour as an automobile does over 350 miles. The difference is that a car emits all that pollution over a big stretch of road, while a leaf blower deposits it all in one back or front yard.

2.Dangerous chemicals. Leaf blowers spread dust, dirt, animal droppings, herbicides and pesticides into your air, over your cars and into the windows of your home

3.Noise. Blowers whine "like dental drills gone berserk," said the Detroit Free-Press. Added the Christian Science Monitor: "Blowers blare and screech, kick up dirt and dust and accomplish nothing."

The machines generate unacceptable amounts of air and noise pollution while doing little more than pushing debris into the air, city streets and gutters. According to Regional Air Council studies, 6 percent of the volatile organic compound pollutants in the skies above the Denver-metro area is generated by hand-held, gas-powered tools.

Leaf blowers are more accurately dust blowers; they blow dust from one place to another, containing fertilizers, pesticides, dog and cat fecal matter, top soil, etc. Help reduce air contaminants by banning the leaf blower.

The use of blowers is currently illegal in 20 major California cities, including Los Angeles, Hermosa Beach, Lawndale, Lomita, Santa Monica, Malibu, Beverly Hills, Claremont, South Pasadena and Santa Barbara for one simple reason: they are hazardous to our health.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration considers noise above 85 decibels dangerous; leaf blowers register at 90 decibels and above. And even though manufacturers recommend wearing protection at all times, gardeners regularly work without protective headphones.

Many also don't wear respiratory gear, an omission with significant health risks considering the machine stirs up dangerous dust, including airborne feces and allergens such as molds and pollens.

"Blowers churn up clouds of fuel exhaust mixed with debris that should be left on the ground," argues Menlo Park ban supporter Cheryl Zaslawsky, "such as pesticides, animal droppings, bacteria, mold spores, brake dust and more."

The American Lung Association recommends that passers-by avoid blowers if possible, especially if they suffer from respiratory problems.

And on the far end of the alarmist spectrum comes this: Leaf blowers are killing babies. At least so claims an attorney for an anti-blower group in Los Angeles, arguing in a recent court brief: "Approximately 45 babies a year die from SIDS [Sudden Infant Death Syndrome] in Los Angeles due to airborne particulate matter and many of those deaths are attributed to dust from gas-powered leaf blowers."

In addition to dust, the blowers emit other particulates. The lung association considers air pollution caused by leaf blowers an even more serious problem. According to Margaret Leathers, executive director of the association's local chapter, leaf blowers generate as much pollution in one hour as driving a car 100 miles. In the Bay Area alone, blowers account for 1.4 tons a day of smog-forming compounds and 15 tons of carbon monoxide.

Stop this foolishness!!

 

  LINKS

A bill to restrict cities and counties from banning leaf blowers 1999
Sponsor of the bill:
1. Association of Latin American Gardeners [CO-SPONSOR] 
2. CA Landscape Contractors Association [CO-SPONSOR] 
3. Lawn and Garden Equipment Dealers Coalition [CO-SPONSOR]
       These three sponsors got together and convinced the hired gardeners (peons) that they would lose their jobs if leaf blowers were banned. There was no one there to tell them the truth, so they bought into a huge lie for the sake of a few greedy business people.

Another bill 2002 Evil is like sand, it doesn't go away. They keep coming up with bills until one of them slips through. What kind of people do we have in this country?

Air pollution from leaf blowers

Leaf Blowers and Health: Letter to the California Air Resources Board

A link to some zero tolerance cities. a sample of one ordinance.
Berkeley 13.40.070.B.14
BANS GAS BLOWERS
". . . any portable machine powered with a gasoline engine used to blow . . ."
http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us

(NOTE) 13.Tampering. The removal or rendering inoperative, other than for purposes of maintenance, repair, or replacement, of any noise control device or element thereof, of any product required to meet specified noise emission limits under federal, state or local law, and the use of said product after its noise control device has been removed or rendered inoperative, other than for purposes of maintenance, repair or replacement

14.Notwithstanding Subsection B.11 of this section, it shall be unlawful for any person, including any City employee, to operate any portable machine powered with a gasoline engine used to blow leaves, dirt, and other debris off sidewalks, driveways, lawns or other surfaces within the City limits.

a. Notice of this prohibition shall be posted in all stores selling such gasoline powered machines within the City limits. (Ord. 6026-NS § 1, 1990: Ord. 5500-NS § 1 (part), 1982)

What is wrong with the rest of your intelligent city officials? You voted them in, why aren't they protecting you?

1   2  3

  This nice lady in image #3 left her apartment to walk to the mailroom for her mail. How many particles do you think she filtered through her lungs passing through that cloud of dirt? How many particles do you pass through your lungs because of leaf blowers?  
     
  October 24, 2007

Besides the wonderful concept of getting exercise by raking leafs and the idea of banning leaf blowers because of noise - there is a far stronger reason to ban leaf-blowers. Right now here in Southern California the air is full of smoke debris, which has been deemed unhealthy, and rightly so. The public is warned to stay indoors and not expose them selves to the dangerous air. They say the particles remain in the air for up to three weeks.

 Yesterday, Oct. 23rd, while the wind was dying down, the gardeners, who come weekly to our apartment complex turned on their leaf-blowers. I have been against leaf-blowers for a long time because of the damage it causes to the lungs, but after yesterday, I am going to start a campaign against them.

I now have videos taken yesterday of the effects of those stupid leaf blowers. The wind was blowing and the leaf-blowers were kicking the dirt and debris high into the air (by the way, there were hardly any leaves.) After they moved the dirt into the air, the gardeners blew the dust off of the parked cars and then they left. An hour later the cars were once again covered with the dust and the air was still full of the particles that will be lingering for a few weeks. But don't worry, there are a lot of people in California who will filter that dust with their lungs. How did we ever manage before leaf-blowers.

One other thing - one of the early news reports stated that a leaf blower was the cause of one of the fires. Later the report said it was caused by an industrial accident. Leaf-blower manufacturers must have a lot of pull with the government. If you search "leaf blowers" you will see how much money they are making off of these death machines.

Below is an excerpt from an article in washingtonpost.com - Sad to say but most of the article is about the noise and not about the real health hazard from the particles blown into the air.

A Growing Clamor Over Leaf Blowers - www.washingtonpost.com/?nav=globaltop 

Opponents of leaf blowers say noise isn't the only pollutant. The fumes from the gas engines foul the air and the machines kick up particulates containing mold, pesticides, dried animal waste and plain old dust. John Murtagh, a city council member in Yonkers, N.Y., is pushing his colleagues to ban leaf blowers during the summer, as other communities in Westchester County have done. Murtagh said 13 percent of the city's children suffer from asthma. He said that other than in the fall, the machines' "utility is dramatically outweighed by the pollution they generate."

MY QUESTION:  If the government is protecting us against drugs and unhealthy food processes, why isn't it protecting our lungs from leaf blowers and tobacco?"

MY ANSWER (Which is another question.): Could it be money, and/or political pull from the manufacturers of these products? Probably both!!

 
 

Below is an article I copied from NPC Quiet Net. I have linked to them so that you may read more. I copied it before the powers to be get it thrown off the net.

Air Pollution From Leaf Blowers

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) says air pollution costs our state billions of dollars annually in health care and crop and building damage. It irritates eyes and throats, harms lungs, and causes cancer and premature death (1), including sudden death from heart attacks. Ozone*, a gas, is Sacramento's worst air pollution problem (2), and we also have unhealthy levels of liquid and solid particulate matter (PM**) (3). Blowers, especially gasoline-powered, contribute to both of these. Emissions from the two-stroke combustion engine include PM as well as gaseous carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and hydrocarbons (CO, NOx, and HC). Leaf blowers also raise (entrain) dust from the ground. And evaporative emissions of fuel occur during the refueling process, which sometimes spills gas on the operators, and from the fuel tank. Comparisons that exclude some of these could understate the problem.

Fine PM2.5 particles, which are man-made and do not occur in nature, evade the body's defense systems. According to the EPA and ARB they can increase the number and severity of asthma attacks, cause or aggravate bronchitis or other lung disease, and reduce our ability to fight infections (4).

Leaf blower motors are inordinately large emitters of CO, NOx, HC, and PM according to a study conducted for the ARB (5). Two-stroke engine fuel is a gasoline-oil mixture, thus especially toxic. Particles from combustion are virtually all smaller than PM2.5. According to the Lung Association, a leaf blower causes as much smog as 17 cars.

Street dust includes lead, organic carbon, and elemental carbon according to a study conducted for the ARB. The Lung Association states "the lead levels are of concern due to [their] great acute toxicity... Elemental carbon...usually contains several adsorbed carcinogens." Another study found arsenic, cadmium, chromium, nickel, and mercury in street dust as well (6). The ARB states that a leaf blower creates 2.6 pounds of PM10 dust emissions per hour of use (7), and based on this a report from the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District states that leaf blower dust is responsible for two percent of our PM (8). Blowers are widely used in residential areas where many people are exposed.

The EPA and ARB, in their brochure "Particulate Matter Air Pollution: A threat to our health" advise us, "Avoid using leaf blowers." The multi-agency Best Available Control Measure Working Group agrees.

In November 1997 the Los Angeles Times reported on studies by Kaiser and the California EPA showing a correlation between levels of air pollution and hospital admissions for cardiopulmonary problems (9). These reinforce conclusions reported in the August 1997 issue of Consumer Reports, which described the effect on preschool children as "especially startling." (10) Fifty thousand people in the city of Sacramento are particularly vulnerable to air pollution because of asthma or cardiopulmonary disease (11). Healthy adults and children who play or exercise vigorously are also at risk (1).

Sacramento must reduce its smog-forming emissions by 40 percent by the year 2005 in order to achieve healthier air (3), yet the Portable Power Equipment Manufacturers Association has asked its California members to lobby against stricter emission regulations developed by the ARB for 1999 (12).

  • Ozone, three atoms of oxygen in one molecule, is formed by reaction of hydrocarbons (sometimes referred to as "volatile organic compounds," or VOCs) and NOx in sunlight. It is desirable in the upper atmosphere, but irritating to living tissue.
  • *PM air pollution consists of particles small enough to remain suspended in the air for a significant period of time (hours to days) unless washed out by rain or otherwise removed. PM is often described by its particle size as PM 10 or PM2.5, a number that refers to maximum diameter in microns. (Thus, PM2.5 is a subcategory of, and contained within, PM10.)

References:

  1. "The California Air Resources Board", a brochure currently available at the ARB offices, 2020 L Street, Sacramento CA 95814.
  2. "Spare The Air: Improving Air Quality In The Sacramento Region", published summer 1997 by the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District, which says, "During the summer, we are among the worst areas in the nation for ozone air pollution" and advises us, "Don't use gasoline-powered lawn and utility equipment..."
  3. California Air Resources Board: Status Report 1995-96.
  4. "Particulate Matter Air Pollution: A threat to our health", Best Available Control Measure (BACM) Working Group, January 1997.
  5. American Lung Association of Sacramento - Emigrant Trails, "Fact Sheet: Leaf Blower Air Pollution Impacts Study Results."
  6. County of Fresno, Inter Office Memo, October 14, 1982.
  7. July 9, 1991 letter from Terry McGuire, Chief, Technical Support Division, ARB, states, "We estimate that a single leaf blower reentrains about 5 pounds of particulate matter in an hour, about half of which is PM10."
  8. Reported in the Sacramento Environmental Commission's "Leaf Blower Recommendations From the Subcommittee", October 27, 1997.
  9. Los Angeles Times, November 21, 1997, "Alerts Urged at Lower Smog Levels".
  10. Consumer Reports, August 1997, page 36, "Air Quality Special Report: Clearing the air". In this long, forcefully written, informative article, the magazine reports that, "Outdoor air--even air that meets present pollution standards--still can be hazardous to your health." The article explains that the scientific evidence is "remarkably consistent" and significant, in spite of assertions to the contrary by polluting industries. And it says that industry typically threatens ruinous cost increases if new regulations are imposed, "but when regulations have changed anyway, the predicted economic disasters haven't materialized."
  11. Sacramento Bee, 1997 (exact date unknown), "Capital-area air labeled bad but legal". The article said 152,000 people in Sacramento County suffer from chronic obstructive lung disease, asthma, or ischemic heart disease. We assume the city's per capita rate matches the county's.
  12. Sacramento Bee's California Life, January 17, 1998, "Garden equipment group steps on the gas".

Leaf Blowers and Health:
Letter to the California Air Resources Board

This letter discusses some of the health effects of leaf blowers, with information sources noted for further reference (sources listed elsewhere on our web site are not necessarily repeated here). Although certain facts can be and have been documented by studies, a number of conclusions about the health effects of leaf blowers -- as they are used in actual practice today -- can be reached simply by using common sense and logic, and some of these conclusions are included in the following discussion.

General Comment on Level of Danger: In ordinary use, blowers are clearly not being operated according to the manufacturers' own warnings. According to warnings (such as Echo's "Power Blower Operators Manual"), everyone within 50 feet of a blower in use should be wearing hearing, eye, and breathing protection. We all know from our own observations that this is not done, and it is preposterous it ever could be, as blowers are often used within less than 50 feet of bystanders such as pedestrians, cyclists, and even people inside their own homes who can hardly be expected to put on hearing, eye, and breathing protection each time they encounter a leaf blower!

TO TOP OF PAGE

Noise - Effects on the General Public: In 1980, the World Health Organization and United Nations jointly sponsored a report, "Environmental Health Criteria 12. Noise," which contained "the collective views of an international group of experts." The report listed a variety of health effects, both on workers in noisy industries and for populations in noisy living environments. Based on the evidence reviewed and the opinions of these experts, the report recommended these community noise levels:

  • "For good speech intelligibility, noise levels of less than 45 dB(A)…
  • "[To avoid] sleep disturbance…a bedroom noise limit of 35 dB(A)…
  • "General daytime noise levels of less than 55 dB(A)[to prevent] significant community annoyance…
  • "To meet sleep criteria… [an outdoor level of] 45 dB(A)

In the absence of any report to the contrary, we should not have to reinvent the wheel by proving noise is bad. The only question thus remaining is: Do leaf blowers conform to the WHO report standard? The answer is obviously no.

Whether or not any particular leaf blower conforms to its advertised noise level as determined by standards promulgated by the American National Standards Institute is not relevant. The ANSI standards are measurement methodologies, and do not even purport to be limits on noise pollution. Further, demonstrations in California communities show that the standard does not represent actual experience. For example, in Palo Alto, 1998 and 1999 leaf blower demonstrations conducted by the police department revealed that in actual use blowers exceeded their decibel ratings as supplied by the manufacturers based on ANSI standards (April 27, 1998 City Manager's Report; May 12, 1999 Palo Alto Weekly). Consumer Reports has reached the same conclusion.

Manufacturers should not be allowed to divert discussion to the noise levels produced by their quietest models, when they continue to sell louder models in greater numbers.

Noise levels are only one of the factors that determine the nuisance value of a noise source. Another factor is the frequency of exposure. Leaf Blowers are ubiquitous in California. We report some sales figures in A Brief History of the Leaf Blower on this web site. In preparation for my testimony to the Sacramento Environmental Commission in 1997, I kept a week long diary of leaf blower noise as I experienced it, mostly when I was in my home. (And, I must add, there is nothing more miserable than having one's home invaded by unwelcome noise.) I heard leaf blowers up to eight times a day, sometimes for extended periods.

The very fact that you are now engaged in preparing a report on the health effects of leaf blowers attests to their significance as a problem. The battle over leaf blowers reached the state legislature only after being fought for years in cities all over California and the nation. Judging by the number of citizen groups in the U.S. that have organized to ban leaf blowers, it seems entirely reasonable to place leaf blowers among the top ten sources of U.S. noise pollution (a list of "Known Pro-Quiet Anti-Noise Groups" recently compiled by David Staudacher, moderator of the Quiet-List, supports this assertion). There is a good reason that Echo's list of "Cities with noise activity"' (my copy is dated August 8, 1997) is 21 pages long!

As Eric Zwerling, Director of the Rutgers Noise Technical Assistance Center, stated by telephone (May 6, 1999), "There is an ample body of literature on the health effects of noise." Studies documenting these effects can be found listed in the WHO report discussed above, and additional sources are listed below. Of course, all these effects, which can be predicted for bystanders to frequent leaf blower use would also occur for the operators:

  • Stress. In 1978 the U.S. EPA, in "Noise: A Health Problem," wrote: "Noise causes stress and the body reacts with increased adrenaline, changes in the heart rate, and elevated blood pressure" and quoted Dr. Samuel Rosen of Mt. Sinai Hospital: "We now have millions with heart disease, high blood pressure, and emotional illness who need protection from the additional stress of noise. " The report goes on to state: "Noise does not have to be loud to bring on these responses. Noise below the levels usually associated with hearing damage can cause regular and predictable changes in the body..." Even the unborn can be affected. The EPA report says, "[T]he fetus is not fully. protected from its mother's response to stress...this indirect fetal response may threaten fetal development if it occurs early in pregnancy...A Japanese study of over 1,000 births produced evidence of a high proportion of low-weight babies in noisy areas... stress causes constriction of the uterine blood vessels which supply nutrients and oxygen to the developing baby."
  • Cardiovascular problems. According to the Los Angeles Times (3/27/99), "German environmental authorities have documented a greater risk of heart attacks among people exposed to excessive noise...Investigation of the lifestyles of German cardiac patients has shown about a 25 percent greater chance of heart attacks among those whose work or home environments were persistently exposed to noise above 65 decibels..." The web site of the European Academy of the Urban Environment says, "The effects of noise range from disruption of physical and psychological well-being to rapid increase in cardiovascular disease." The U.S. EPA has stated, "[A] growing body of evidence strongly suggests a link between exposure to noise and the development and aggravation of a number of heart disease problems...even a small increase in the percentage of heart problems caused by noise could prove debilitating to many thousands of Americans."
  • Gastrointestinal distress. According to the League for the Hard of Hearing, "Studies have linked noise exposure with increased gastric emptying (Kaus and Fell, 1984), with increased peristaltic esophageal contraction (Young, 1987), as well as increased anxiety. Another study found an increase in the use of antacids and hypnotics, sedatives and antihypertensives in a noisy community...(Knipschild, 1977)."
  • Depressed immunity. The U.S. EPA reports: "From a study done with animals, researchers concluded that noise may be a risk factor in lowering people's resistance to disease and infection." A recent study conducted at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands found that "[an] uncontrollable stressor that lasts 15 minutes can have consequences for health because it may interfere with cytokine interleukin-6 function, which plays an essential role in activating the immune defense… Uncontrollable stressors also produce high levels of cortisol, which suppresses immune system functioning."
  • Interrupted sleep. It does not take a study to determine that many people must sleep during the same daytime hours that leaf blowers are used in every neighborhood. One need only consider the number of hospitals, police departments, and convenience stores along with a great many other entities and services that operate around the dock. Noise can awaken us from sleep, prevent us from falling asleep, and impair sleep even when it does not awaken us.

    Sleep deprivation has a number of well-known consequences including automobile and industrial accidents and diminished mental and physical health. The L.A. Times reported (March 27, 1999) that when noise disrupts sleep, it produces stress hormones that accelerate aging and heart disease.

    A 1993 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association ( Vol. 269, No. l2) stated, "Inadequate or poor sleep can result in fatigue and impaired alertness and cognitive ability, reducing productivity on the job and increasing the opportunity for human error and fatigue- related accidents. On-the-job accidents and lost productivity carry' a staggering cost--about $64 billion annually... Sleep loss and sleep disturbances also are thought to play a major role in causing automobile accidents. Drowsiness is blamed for some 200,000 to 400,000 automobile accidents annually. These accidents account for almost one half of all accident-related fatalities; as many as 13 percent of these deaths may be caused by falling asleep at the wheel."
  • Social discord. The League for the Hard of Hearing cites studies that report increased aggression (Donnerstein and Wilson, 1976) and less helpful behavior (Mathews and Cannon, 1975) in noisy environments. Alice Suter, Ph.D., a nationally recognized noise consultant, was quoted in the Spring 1993 Issues in Science and Technology: "Even moderate noise levels can increase anxiety, decrease the incidence of helping behavior, and increase the rise of hostile behavior in experimental subjects."
  • Impaired communication. Noise disrupts social interaction and can be dangerous by masking warning noises. According to the U.S. EPA, "People who live in noisy places tend to adopt a lifestyle devoid of communication and social interaction.. For millions of Americans residing in noisy urban areas, the use of outdoor areas for relaxed conversation is virtually impossible."
  • Impairment of children's hearing, health, learning, and behavior. The League for the Hard of Hearing cites studies of children and noise. The U.S. EPA reports that learning difficulties, particularly with language development and reading ability, are byproducts of noisy home and/or school environments
  • Psychological, social, and emotional problems. The [UK] Electronic Telegraph (March 28, 1999) reports that "[one] American study showed that people living on noisy main roads had far fewer friends than those in quiet suburbs. People living near airports were eight times more likely to suffer mental problems." The U.S. EPA says, "Several industrial studies indicate that noise can heighten social conflicts both at work and at home... And studies of several industries show that prolonged noise exposure may lead to a larger number of psychological problems among workers."
  • Particular difficulty for certain subgroups of our population, including the hearing-impaired and sufferers of hyperacusis and tinnitus.

    Noise even at 65 dB interferes with the ability of the hard of hearing to recognize speech. This is an increasing problem for Americans who are losing hearing at younger ages and in greater numbers than ever before. For example, the Sacramento Bee reported (October 19, 1998) that a study of 6,928 men and women published in the American Journal of Public Health found that "the prevalence of hearing impairment nearly doubled between 1965 and 1994 in a population based in Alameda County." According to the U.S. EPA, "When exposed to a vent, loud noise, people with partial hearing loss may experience discomfort and pain." [Expanded quote below with source noted.]

    Hyperacusis (also known as dysacusis, oxylacusis, hypersensitive hearing, or phonophobia) may include about one in every 100,000 people. It is a heightened sensitivity to sound which causes noise to be traumatic. As many as 40 percent of autistic children are similarly sensitive to sound. (Information obtained from the Internet.)

Noise - effects on the operators. A leaf blower that emits 75 decibels of noise measured from 50 feet, not uncommon for professional blower models on the market today will emit 99 dB at three feet (add 6 dB for each halving of the distance). A backpack model will be even closer than that to the operator's ears and heart. The documented effects of these noise levels include:

  • Noise-induced hearing damage. Robert L. Blum, MD, wrote in 1998: "The National Institute of Occupational Safety. and Health (NIOSH) has recognized for decades that exposure to sounds over 85 dB causes hearing loss...A search of the National Library. of Medicine's database for papers after 1990 ["Medline"] yielded 927 references [including]:
  • "(Wu 98) surveyed 9,535 workers who were exposed to noise > 85 dB just in the past four years (with modem hearing protection programs). 34 percent of these workers had noise- induced hearing loss. 14 percent of the total had severe hearing loss.
  • "(Maisarah 93) studied 524 industrial workers and compared them with non-noise exposed workers. Sensorineural hearing loss ,was present in 83 percent of the noise-exposed workers versus 32 percent in the control group.. -Although hearing protection devices were provided to 80.5 percent of the workers, only 5.1 percent were wearing them regularly.
  • "(Neuberger 92) studied 260,917 noise-exposed workers and showed a highly significant correlation of hearing loss with intensity and duration of noise exposure."

    Alice Suter, Ph.D., wrote in 1994, "[I]t is well known that some more susceptible workers will incur hearing losses at levels below 85 dB(A)."
  • Vibration-induced hearing damage. Dr. Blum says: "Vibration is significant because commercial blowers are worn on the back... Vibration is transmitted up the spinal column to the skull and temporal bones, which enclose the cochlea...[E]ar muffs do nothing to protect the operators from vibration transmitted by bone conduction... Vibration-induced hearing loss is also well-documented.. -Scores of epidemiological studies have shown hearing losses in farm workers, factory workers, subway operators, and [workers in] many other industrial settings. ( See Medline under key words: vibration and noise-induced hearing loss.) Vibration-induced hearing loss is over and above that produced by noise."

    It is worth noting here that hearing loss is deeply damaging to a person's life in many ways. It affects employability, impairs enjoyment of music and other entertainment, creates hazards by impairing the ability to recognize sounds of danger, and perhaps worst of all, creates social isolation. In its 1978 report "Noise: A Health Problem," the U.S. EPA stated, "People with partial deafness...do not necessarily live in a quieter world. The many sounds still audible to them are distorted...When exposed to a very loud noise, people with partial hearing loss may experience discomfort and pain...There is even the further pain hard-of-hearing person faces: the emotional anguish caused, perhaps unintentionally, by friends and associates who become less willing to be partners in conversation or companions in other activities. Indeed, the inability to converse normally makes it difficult for partially deaf people to participate in lectures, meetings, parties, and other public gatherings. For a person with hearing loss, listening to TV, radio, and the telephone--important activities of our lives--is difficult, if not impossible...As hearing diminishes, a severe sense of isolation can set in."/LI>
  • Stress. (See the above section on stress in "Noise - effects on the general public.")
  • Heart disease. Dr. Blum cites Tarter (1990), who showed "a significant correlation between hypertension and hearing loss in workers exposed to 85 dB noise. " At the very least, the same level of cardiovascular problems experienced by people in noisy environments as discussed above would be experienced by blower operators.
  • Gastrointestinal problems. The U.S. EPA says, "In studies dating back to the 1930s, researchers noted that workers chronically exposed to noise developed marked digestive changes which were thought to lead to ulcers. Cases of ulcers in certain noisy industries have been found to be up to five times as numerous as what normally would be expected."
  • Combined effects of noise and pollution on hearing. Research mentioned in the May 1998 issue of Noise & Vibration Worldwide says: "...[F]indings suggest that exposure to toluene [an ingredient in gasoline] has a toxic effect on the auditory system." Other information is available in the published proceedings of the Stockholm Fifth International Congress on Noise as a Public Health Problem in the section "Combined Agents" which includes "Interactions Between Noise and Air Pollution" and "Noise and Solvents."
  • Generally poorer health. The U.S. EPA reports: "A five-year study of two manufacturing firms in the United States found that workers in noisy plant areas showed greater numbers of diagnosed medical problems, including respiratory ailments, than did workers in quieter areas of the plants." In 1994, Alice Suter wrote that "there is growing evidence that noise adversely affects general health, and the cardiovascular system in particular...which directly affects mortality" and refers to Ising and Kruppa, 1993; Peterson et al, 1978, 1981, and 1983; Rehm, 1983 ; and Zhao, et al, 1993.

Entrained dust (and other substances from the ground). Logically, we must assume that anything on the ground in small enough particles to become airborne will end up in the dust clouds created by leaf blowers and then inhaled by anyone in the area. This would include:

  • Molds and pollens. These substances are known irritants to sufferers of asthma or allergies. According to the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America, 1.8 million Californians, including half a million children, suffer from asthma and 600 of those die of it each year.

     
  • Lead, arsenic, and mercury among other harmful substances (mentioned elsewhere on our website).

     
  • Pesticides. Of the 18 most commonly used herbicides, seven are cancer causing, six cause birth defects, six have reproductive effects, eight are neurotoxic, nine are damaging to the kidney, and liver, and 14 are irritants according to Jay Feldman, Executive Director of the National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides. In an August 27, 1998 article in the Boulder Weekly he cites the EPA and NIH as his sources for this information, and continues, "Even worse, we do not know what we should about the pesticides...EPA officials have stated clearly that numerous tests are not performed as part of pesticide registration and should be...In addition, pesticides are not currently tested in mixtures with other chemicals for their additive, cumulative, or synergistic effects...The majority of pesticide formulations...are comprised of so-called 'inert' ingredients that are often more toxic than the parent compound and not disclosed on the product label."

    Increasing the hazard to lawn care operators, the use of pesticides on home lawns is four times as heavy per acre as in agriculture (The Ecology of Eden, quoting Pollan, "Why Mow?"). And according to Olkowski, Daar, and Olkowski founders of the Bio Integral Resource Center (in their book, Common-Sense Pest Control), inhalation of pesticides is the most destructive form of ingestion.
  • Animal feces. For an interesting discussion of this aspect of air pollution, see the L.A. Times article "Fouled Air a Major Pet Peeve for Mexico City."
  • Viral disease. In 1995, local Long Island newspapers reported the death of a landscaper, Verod Hopson, from a hantavirus infection. After he died, 24 live rodents were collected from his home and workplaces, and 12 were found to have hantavirus antibodies. Humans contract hantavirus by breathing particles of infected rodent saliva, urine, or feces into their lungs. The virus is fatal about half the time, and there is no cure. Where hantavirus is present, health authorities are unanimous in advising that dust not be stirred up. Because noise can impair immunity as discussed above, it seems especially imprudent to stir up dust with a noisy instrument.

 

 
   
     
*********
BILL ANALYSIS 1999
Supporters of this bill:   
Association of Latin American Gardeners [CO-SPONSOR]  
CA Landscape Contractors Association [CO-SPONSOR]  
Lawn and Garden Equipment Dealers Coalition [CO-SPONSOR]  
Bliss Power Lawn Equipment Company  
Enviroscape  
Sheridan Landscaping, Inc.  
  
Opposition to this bill:
Cities of: Berkeley, Claremont, Culver City, Cupertino, Del Mar, 
Los Angeles, Manhattan Beach, Merced, Palo Alto, Piedmont, Santa 
Barbara, Santa Monica, and Thousand Oaks.
League of CA Cities  
Sierra Club  
Zero Air Pollution (ZAP)  
Individual letter (1)  

Date of Hearing:   May 12, 1999  
  
             ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT   
                      John Longville, Chair  
      AB 1609 (Cardenas) - As Introduced:  February 26, 1999  
{u   
SUBJECT u} :   Leaf blowers.  
  
{u SUMMARY u} :  Prohibits local agencies from banning leaf blowers,
but allows the regulation of the noise levels emitted.
Specifically, {u this bill u} :    
  
1)Prohibits cities and counties from banning leaf blowers.  
  
2)Allows cities or counties to establish regulations prohibiting
  leaf blowers that exceed a noise level specified by the city
  or county, provided that the specified noise level is not less
  than 65 decibels measured at a distance of 50 feet in
  accordance with the standards established by the American
  National Standard Institute.  
  
Allows cities or counties to establish a lower noise level if
  the city or county determines, based on testing conducted by
  an independent testing laboratory, that more than one
  manufacturer markets and sells a leaf blower meeting the lower
  standard.  
  
3)Provides that no city or county may prohibit the use of leaf
  blowers except between the hours of 6 p.m. and 8 a.m. on
  weekdays, and 5 p.m. and 9 a.m. on weekends.  
  
4)Provides that a city or county may:   
  
   a)   Regulate the manner and use of leaf blowers including
     restrictions on blowing and disposal of debris onto
     adjoining property, sidewalks, or gutters.  
  
   b)   Require leaf blowers for commercial use, on or after
     January 1, 2001, to be tested and certified by an
     independent testing facility.  
  
5)Provides that more stringent requirements on the {u hours or
  manner of use u} of leaf blowers than contained in this bill may
  be enacted by local ballot initiative if approved by a
  majority of the voters.  
                                                         u} Page  2  
  
  
6)Provides that the Legislature finds that the uniform
  regulation of the noise level of leaf blowers is a matter of
  statewide concern.  
  
{u EXISTING LAW u} :  
  
1)A county or city may make and enforce within its limits all
  local, police, sanitary, and other ordinances and regulations
  not in conflict with general laws. (Cal. Const. art. XI,
  section 7)  
  
2)A city has police power authority to declare what activities
  or uses constitute a nuisance and to enact regulations
  designed to eliminate or reduce the occurrence of a nuisance
  in an effort to protect the general welfare.  (Cal. Const.
  art. XI, sec. 7).  
  
3)State law defines a "nuisance" as being "anything which is
  injurious to health, or is indecent, or offensive to the
  senses, or an obstruction to the free use of property, so as
  to interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life or
  property." (Cal. Civ. Code section 370)  
  
4)Charter cities and charter counties may enact laws which
  conflict with state law as to any matters, which are, deemed
  local or "municipal" affairs rather than matters of statewide
  concern.  
  
{u FISCAL EFFECT u} :  No state cost.  
  
{u COMMENTS u} :  
  
1) {u Background and Local Ordinance u} . {u   
u}   
This issue arose as a response to a City of Los Angeles
  ordinance passed in November, 1996, that provided that no gas
  powered blower shall be used within 500 feet of a residence at
  anytime.  
  
Following passage of the ordinance gardeners marched in protest
  on the Los Angeles City Hall.  According to the Los Angeles
  Times:  "The demonstrations reached a sobering level when a
  group of gardeners vowed to fast until death on the grounds of
  City Hall unless the mayor and the council took action to
                                                         {u AB 1609  
                                                         u} Page  3  

  address their grievances. In January 1998, a compromise was
  reached when the council promised to help the gardeners obtain
  replacement machines, while voting to enforce the current
  ordinance by authorizing police to issue tickets to violators
  and their employers.  
  
Last session Senator Polanco introduced SB 1651 which was
  intended to limit the authority of local governments to
  restrict the use of gas powered leaf blowers.  SB 1651 was
  approved by the Senate Business and Professions Committee
  (Ayes 4, Noes 2) and the Senate Local Government Committee
  (Ayes 5, Noes 2).  Because SB 1651required the Department of
  Consumer Affairs to adopt a program to certify leaf blowers,
  the bill was sent to Senate Appropriations.  SB 1651 failed
  passage in Senate Appropriations Committee.    
  
Instead of seeking reconsideration in Senate Appropriations for
  SB 1651, later in the session Senator Polanco took over
  Senator Calderon's SB 14 (relating clause: "Jury Service").
  SB 14 included the provisions of SB 1651 without the
  requirement that the Department of Consumer Affairs adopt a
  program to certify leaf blowers, thereby making the bill
  non-fiscal.  
  
AB 1609 (Cardenas) contains the exact language as the final
  version of SB 14 (Polanco) 1998.  SB 14 was ultimately held
  without a vote by the Senate Environmental Committee.  
  
2) {u Restrictions by Other Cities u} .  
  
Since 1975, 18 cities in California have adopted restrictive
  regulations or outright bans on the use of such equipment as a
  result of pressure from residents complaints about noise, dust
  and emissions. The cities that have passed such ordinances
  are:  Belvedere, Berkeley, Beverly Hills, Carmel, Claremont,
  Del Mar, Hermosa Beach, Indian Wells, Lawndale, Laguna Beach,
  Los Altos, Los Angeles, Malibu, Menlo Park, Mill Valley,
  Piedmont, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood.   
  
The City of Santa Barbara approved an initiative ordinance
  banning the use of gasoline powered leaf blowers in November
  1997.  
  
3) {u What is a Decibel u} ?  
                                                          {u AB 1609  
                                                         u} Page  4  
  
A decibel is a measurement of the intensity (energy/square inch)
  of sound.  
  
According to the World Book Encyclopedia: A sound intensity
  level of 140 decibels (dB) is the threshold of pain.  Sounds
  of 140 dBs or more produce pain in the ear, rather than
  hearing.     
  
A whisper amounts to about 20 decibels.  Ordinary conversation
  has an intensity level of about 60 dBs.  Loud rock music can
  produce up to 120 dBs.  
  
The measure of decibels is on a logarithmic scale, that is, for
  each 10 point increase in decibels the sound is 10 times
  louder than the previous level.  Thus 70 dBs is 10 times
  greater than 60 dBs, 80 dBs is 100 times greater than 60 dBs
  and 90 dBs is 1000 times greater than 60 dBs.  
  
4) {u What is the American National Standards Institute u} ?  
  
The American National Standards Institute is the administrator
  and coordinator of the United States private sector voluntary
  standardization system.  The Institute is a private, nonprofit
  membership organization supported by a constituency of private
  and public sector organizations.  
  
5) {u Local Control u} .  
  
As noted under existing law, the California Constitution clearly
  provides that local governments are given the authority to
  establish their own ordinances to address the concerns of its
  residents.  
  
This bill would limit an element of local control.  Ever since
  1975, local communities have regulated the use of leaf
  blowers.  Over the years, as noted above, 17 cities have
  determined, through the local legislative process, to regulate
  or ban, what to some residents, constitutes a nuisance.  
  
The committee may wish to consider whether it is proper for the
  state to set a uniform standard for all communities with
  regard to noise levels.  Communities in this state are diverse
  and what is not bothersome to the population in one community
  may be excessively bothersome to residents of another.    
                                                         {u AB 1609  
                                                         u} Page  5  
  
The City of Los Angeles argues that if enacted this bill would
  take away a tool to adequately respond to legitimate community
  concerns about the noise levels and air pollution that leaf
  blowers cause.  
  
6) {u Economic Impacts u} .  
  
The Lawn and Garden Equipment Dealers Coalition asserts that gas
  powered leaf blowers alone account for an estimated $25
  million in sales in California, thereby generating a minimum
  of $1.5 million in sales tax revenue.  Gardeners and landscape
  contractors' businesses are inevitably also affected, as are
  homeowners and taxpayers who pay for increases in maintenance
  costs on private properties, as well as for those managed by
  local governments.  
  
7) {u Impact on Landscape Workers u} .  
  
The Los Angeles ordinance and the other 14 cities which have
  established total bans on the use of gasoline powered leaf
  blowers do impact landscape maintenance businesses.
  Supporters of this bill argue that the time required to do
  proper maintenance will increase when gas powered leaf blowers
  are prohibited.  Supporters argue that the Los Angeles ban
  eliminates a tool of the trade, that they will not be as
  efficient and productive and that they will be harmed
  economically by such a ban.  
  
A total ban on leaf blowers impacts the cost and ability of
  municipalities to maintain public space.  According to a City
  of Santa Barbara analysis of its own proposed leaf blower ban,
  "leaf blowers enable maintenance crews to sustain . . . levels
  of park cleanliness despite increased workloads and staff
  reductions.  Leaf blowers have become even more valuable
  because of staff and budget reductions as well as new
  responsibilities expected of park maintenance crews."  
  
Supporters of the bill argue that the market may not bear an
  increase in rates if landscape maintenance businesses are
  forced to raise those rates to make up the difference.  
  
According to the California Landscape Contractors Association
  (CLCA), bans on leaf blowers deprive the industry of a safe
  and essential tool and discourage the development of new,
  cleaner and quieter technologies that will significantly
                                                         {u AB 1609  
                                                         u} Page  6  
  
  reduce air and noise pollution problems associated with these
  products.  
  
CLCA argues further that this bill will help address community
  concerns about excessive noise while still encouraging
  manufacturers to develop quieter and cleaner lawn and garden
  power equipment.  
  
8) {u Initiative Process u} .  
  
The League of California Cities argues that the initiative
  requirement applies not only to leaf blower bans, but to time
  of day regulation as well.  Thus, a city that has an existing
  time of day ordinance that that is different than the
  restrictions under the bill would be required to use the
  initiative process if they wished to re-instate their local
  regulation.  
  
9) {u Other Arguments in Support u} .  
  
The California Landscape Contractors Association argues that
  concerns over noise and emissions are being addressed through
  new sound-deadening technologies and tougher emission
  regulations recently adopted by the California Air Resources
  Board for two-cycle internal combustion engines. Proponents to
  this bill argue that it will place an undue burden on law
  enforcement to enforce limits established in this bill.
  Opponents assert it is most likely that such ordinances would
  be unenforceable and have no practical effect.  
  
10) {u Other Bills u} .  
  
This session four bills have been introduced addressing the leaf
  blower issue.  The other three bills are: AB 1544 (Granlund);
  SB 1267 (Polanco); and SCR 19 (Burton).  
  
11) {u Possible Amendments u} .  
  
   a)   The committee may wish to consider whether the voters
     should allowed to vote to ban leaf blowers.    
  
   The bill allows the voters to regulate the hours or manner of
     use of leaf blowers, which could be written to effectively
     ban leaf blowers.  As examples, leaf blowers could be
     allowed only on Tuesdays from 10 am to 11 am, or leaf
                                                         {u AB 1609  
                                                         u} Page  7  
     blowers could be allowed provided they do not result in any
     air-borne dust traveling to another property.  
  
   b)   The committee may wish to consider whether city or
     county should be allowed to put a leaf blower measure on
     the ballot.  
  
   The bill allows a leaf blower measure to be put on the ballot
     only by initiative.  
  
   c)   The committee may wish to consider whether there should
     be statewide noise standards for leaf blowers used in
     residential areas.  
  
{u REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION u} :     
  
{u Support   
u}   
Association of Latin American Gardeners [CO-SPONSOR]  
CA Landscape Contractors Association [CO-SPONSOR]  
Lawn and Garden Equipment Dealers Coalition [CO-SPONSOR]  
Bliss Power Lawn Equipment Company  
Enviroscape  
Sheridan Landscaping, Inc.  
  
{u Opposition   
u}   
Cities of: Berkeley, Claremont, Culver City, Cupertino, Del Mar,
Los Angeles, Manhattan Beach, Merced,   
     Palo Alto, Piedmont, Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, Thousand
Oaks  
League of CA Cities  
Sierra Club  
Zero Air Pollution (ZAP)  
Individual letter (1)  
  
{u Analysis Prepared by u} :    
Hubert Bower / L. GOV. / (916) 319-3958
*******
     
 
  BILL ANALYSIS 2002 
                                                    SB 1267  
                                                              
  
           SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY  
                    Byron D. Sher, Chairman  
                   1999-2000 Regular Session  
                                  
BILL NO:    SB 1267  
AUTHOR:     Polanco  
AMENDED:    As Introduced  
FISCAL:     No                HEARING DATE:     May 10, 1999  
URGENCY:    No                CONSULTANT:       Randy Pestor  
{u   
SUBJECT u} :    LEAF BLOWERS  
  
{u SUMMARY u} :      
  
{u Existing law u} , under article XI, 7 of the state Constitution,
allows a city or county to "make and enforce within its limits
all local, police, sanitary, and other ordinances and
regulations not in conflict with general laws."  A charter
city is exempt, with regard to its municipal affairs, from the
"conflict with general laws" restrictions.  
  
{u This bill u} :  
  
1) Prohibits the sale of a leaf blower unless it meets State
   Air Resources Board (ARB) emission standards.  
  
2) On or after January 1, 2001, prohibits leaf blower from
   being sold unless it complies with American National
   Standard Institute (ANSI) Standard B 175.2, is affixed with
   a label that identifies the maximum noise level that may be
   produced by the leaf blower, and complies with #1 above.  
  
3) Between January 1, 2000, and December 31, 2001, disallows a
   city or county from prohibiting or restricting the
   commercial use of a leaf blower, except the regulatory
   initiative measure prohibiting leaf blowers enacted by
   Santa Barbara electors.  
  
4) On or after January 1, 2002, allows a city or county to
   restrict the commercial use of leaf blowers by adopting an
   ordinance that prohibits the use of leaf blowers that do
   not meet the ANSI Standard B 175.2 specifications.  
                                                    SB 1267  
                                                      Page 2  
  
5) On or after January 1, 2002, allows the electors of any
   city or county to enact a "total prohibition" on the
   commercial use of leaf blowers by initiative measure.  
  
6) Provides legislative intent that:  a) only voters can enact
   a total prohibition on the commercial use of leaf blowers
   because of the severe economic impact this may have on an
   individual who operates a leaf blower as part of a trade,
   and b) the Legislature occupies the whole field of
   regulating leaf blowers as provided by this bill, exclusive
   of all local regulations relating to the commercial use of
   leaf blowers by any city, including a chartered city, or
   county.  
  
{u COMMENTS u} :  
  
{u 1) Purpose of Bill u} .  According to the author, SB 1267
   "addresses decisions by several local governments to ban
   the use of leaf blowers."  The author notes that this bill
   reflects his "recognition that leaf blower noise is a
   significant irritant to some people, but also that
   gardeners and the industry have taken significant steps to
   reduce noise and emissions."  
  
{u 2) Leaf blower concerns u} .  Leaf blowers are used to clear
   debris from flowerbeds, lawns, sidewalks, streets, and
   other areas.  Although favored by many in the landscape
   business, leaf blower concerns relate primarily to air
   quality (engine emission and blowing materials, including
   grass, leaves, animal feces, dust, dirt, moles, pesticides,
   spores, and fungi that act as allergens) and noise (volume
   as well as pitch and changing amplitude).  Several cities
   also limit or ban the use of leaf blowers, including
   Belmont, Belvedere, Berkeley, Beverly Hills, Burbank,
   Burlingame, Carmel, Claremont, Davis, Del Mar, Foster City,
   Fresno, Hermosa Beach, Indian Wells, Laguna Beach,
   Lawndale, Los Altos, Los Angeles, Los Gatos, Malibu, Mill
   Valley, Montebello, Napa, Newport Beach, Pasadena, Palos
   Verdes, Piedmont, San Diego, Santa Barbara, San Luis
   Obispo, Santa Monica, Santa Rosa, Sunnyvale, and West
   Hollywood.  
                                                    SB 1267  
                                                      Page 3  
  
The Orange County Grand Jury recently recommended that the
   county, cities, school districts and community college
   districts cease using leaf blowers in their maintenance and
   cleaning operations because of health hazards and high
   noise levels.  
  
Supporters of SB 1267, such as the California Landscape
   Contractors Association, note that "[w]hile we recognize
   public concerns with leaf blower noise and air emissions,
   these devices are absolutely essential for the economic
   well being of our industry."  Those in landscape businesses
   generally support the need for testing and labeling of the
   equipment and note the labor saving and cost benefits of
   the devices.  
  
Opponents, such as local governments, generally note concerns
   expressed by residents ( {u i.e. u} , air quality and noise issues
   outlined above), preemption of local ordinances, and
   allowing certain ordinances only by initiative.  
  
{u 3) Recent ARB responses u} .  The California Clean Air Act grants
   the ARB authority to regulate off-road mobile source
   categories.  The small off-road engine (SORE) category
   includes all off-road engines below 25 horsepower,
   including garden equipment.  The ARB approved the SORE
   regulations in 1990 and requested ARB staff to provide a
   status report before the 1999 implementation of second tier
   standards (first tier standards were effective in 1995).
   The 1999 standards provide for advanced engine designs and
   emission controls.  The final rulemaking regulation package
   was filed with the Office of Administrative Law (OAL)
   February 5, 1999, and OAL approved the regulations March
   23, 1999 (the effective date of the regulations).  
  
{u 4) Noise u} .  SB 1267 refers to compliance with ANSI Standard B
   175.2 specifications.  According to ANSI, the organization
   is a private, nonprofit organization that has "served in
   its capacity as administrator and coordinator of the United
   States private sector voluntary standardization system for
   80 years."  ANSI's primary goal is "the enhancement of
   global competitiveness of U.S. business and the American
   quality of life by promoting and facilitating voluntary
                                                    SB 1267  
                                                      Page 4  
  
   consensus standards and conformity assessment systems and
   promoting their integrity."  ANSI does not develop the
   standards but "facilitates development by establishing
   consensus among qualified groups." ANSI would not release
   information about leaf blower specifications; they could
   only be obtained by a $28 payment for a related volume of
   standards.  When the standard was received from other
   sources, it specified that the "purpose of this standard is
   to establish bystander sound level test procedures and
   labeling requirements for hand-held and backpack,
   gasoline-engine-powered blowers."  These labeling
   procedures provide for labels that include three categories
   of noise levels, but it would be difficult for local
   governments to set a noise level based on these
   "specifications."  Past measures addressing this issue have
   referenced a 65 dBA level, but even a specified level does
   not account for different conditions that may exist
   throughout the state.  A specified limit also does little
   to encourage leaf blower manufacturers to make quieter
   models over time.  
  
A decibel is a unit of sound pressure level, abbreviated dB,
   while dBA is the weighted sound pressure level by the use
   of the A metering characteristic and weighting in ANSI
   specifications.  
  
The noise level decreases by about 6 decibels when the
   separation between a point source and receiver is doubled,
   and increases by about 6 decibels each time the distance is
   halved.  Therefore, a leaf blower operating at a distance
   of 15 feet will be considerably louder than one measured at
   50 feet because the measure of decibels is on a logarithmic
   scale where a 10 point increase in decibels is 10 times
   louder than the previous level.  
  
{u 5) Limitation on Restrictions u} .  According to a recent study by
   Palo Alto, some cities do not regulate leaf blowers, and
   regulatory strategies in other cities "fall into six basic
   categories:  1) time of day/day of week, 2) noise levels,
   3) area specific, 4) bans, 5) educational approach, or 6) a
   combination of the five."  
                                                    SB 1267  
                                                      Page 5  
  
SB 1267 allows a regulatory measure that prohibits the use of
   leaf blowers that do not meet ANSI specifications.  Other
   regulatory strategies, such as those cited above, are not
   allowed by this bill.   
  
{u 6) Other Legislative Responses u} . The Los Angeles ban on
   gasoline leaf blowers within 500 feet of a residence
   generated controversy by gardeners.  SB 1651 (Polanco) of
   1998 required the Department of Consumer Affairs to
   establish a program governing the certification of leaf
   blowers meeting a 65 dBA standard, required leaf blower
   users to use models tested and certified by the department,
   and restricted the ability of local governments to regulate
   the leaf blowers.  SB 1651 failed passage in the Senate
   Appropriations Committee May 20, 1998.  Senator Polanco
   subsequently amended provisions relating to local
   government restrictions into Senator Calderon's SB 14.  AB
   392 (Cedillo) was amended August 28, 1998, to mirror SB 14,
   except that it did not apply to local governments adopting
   an ordinance prior to January 1, 1996, prohibiting the use
   of leaf blowers.  SB 14 and AB 392 were referred to the
   Environmental Quality Committee pursuant to Senate Rule
   29.10 late in the 1997-98 Session and were not heard.  
  
Bills introduced in 1999 limiting local regulation of leaf
   blowers include SB 1267 (Polanco), AB 1544 (Granlund), and
   AB 1609 (Cardenas).  
  
{u 7) More Study u} .  In response to concerns over the use of leaf
   blowers, SCR 19 requests the ARB to report on the potential
   health and environmental effects of their use and requests
   cities and counties to refrain from enacting any new
   ordinance that prohibits the use of leaf blowers until the
   ARB submits its report.  SCR 19 was approved by the Senate
   and is on the Assembly Floor.  The study must be completed
   on or before January 1, 2000.  Therefore, it may be
   appropriate to consider this study prior to acting on other
   leaf blower measures.  
  
{u SOURCE u} :        Senator Polanco {u   
  
SUPPORT u} :       Bliss Power Lawn Equip. Co.  
  
                                                  SB 1267  
                                                      Page 6  
  
               California Landscape Contractors Association  
               Douglas Snyder Incorporated Landscape
               Development  
               J.H. O'Brien Landscaping and Maintenance  
               L&L Landscape Construction, Inc.  
               Madrone Landscapes {u   
  
OPPOSITION u} :    Berkeley  
Citizens for a Quieter Sacramento  
Claremont  
Culver City  
Cupertino  
Del Mar  
League of California Cities  
Manhattan Beach  
Merced  
Santa Barbara  
Santa Monica  
Stockton  
               Thousand Oaks {u 
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Ban Leafblowers!


When it comes to really bad ideas, the leafblower ranks right up there with adding lead to gasoline and using CFCs in aerosols. Leafblowers are diabolical machines. Even if the claims their promoters make for them were true, the damage leafblowers do outweighs such meager benefits by many, many orders of magnitude.

Thanks to decades of relentless lobbying by their manufacturers, the two-cylinder engines that drive leafblowers have never been regulated by any Federal or State agency. The engines, as a result, are crude, cheap, and inefficient, as well as harmful to the environment and everything living in it. Because they are designed to be air-cooled, the engines release 100% of their tailgate emissions directly into the environment, and since they also burn fuel very inefficiently, a leafblower running for one hour emits as many hydrocarbons and other pollutants into the atmosphere as a car driven at 55 mph for 110 miles.

The noise leafblowers make is hideous. Although they operate on only two cylinders, these machines run at at speeds roughly three times faster than a car’s. In the process lots of energy is released in the form of high frequency sound waves with decibel levels that far exceed acceptable limits. The incessant, high-pitched whine of a single leafblower in the distance is enough to set peoples’ teeth on edge; a couple of blowers going nearby can push almost anyone to the brink of homicide. The idea that leafblowers save time - which is the one and only argument for using them - is outrageous, since it implies that the time stolen from the rest of us is worthless.

Using these hideously noisy, highly polluting machines on sidewalks and driveways is bad enough. Turning them on lawns and gardens, beneath shrubs, between hedges, and around the trunks of trees - as everyone is obviously doing these days - is irrational. Unless, that is, the people who are doing it are landscape professionals, in which case it is negligent, almost to the point of criminal.

If that seems extreme, consider that wind blows from the nozzles of these machines at speeds in the range of 180 mph. Winds of that force do not occur naturally on Earth, except inside hurricanes and tornadoes. Worse, still, because the wind is carrying away large quantities of heat from the hyperactive engine, it is also very hot and exceedingly dry.

Subjecting everything at ground level to blasts of hot, dry, hurricane-force winds would be ill-advised at any time, since it cannot fail to injure plants and open pathways for pests and disease, while at the same time aiding and abetting the pathogens by distributing them over the widest possible area. In the summer, though, when the air is hot and the ground is dry and the plants are dehydrated and badly stressed to begin with, subjecting them to tornadic blasts of hot, dry air is, nonsensical, to put it kindly.

Leafblowers literally scour the earth: stripping off topsoil, desiccating roots, and killing vital soil-dwelling organisms, while, at the same time, propelling into the air clouds of dirt, dust and dangerous contaminants: volatile compounds, mold and fungal spores, weed seeds, insect eggs, pollen, molecules of the myriads of toxic chemicals people spray and sprinkle on their gardens, trees, and lawns, not to mention bird and rodent feces, and more.

It goes without saying (but must be said anyway), that leafblowers pose the greatest threat to the health and hearing of the untold numbers of landscape workers who use them on a daily basis, in most cases without adequate protective equipment, for intervals that far exceed OSHA guidelines. Unfortunately, the workers themselves tend to exaggerate the benefits and deny the risks of blowing leaves with machines, which they strongly favor over rakes, for reasons that probably have more to do with symbolism than practicality.

Ironically, leafblowers were not invented to blow leaves; they were originally designed as crop dusters. In other words, they didn’t come about in response to a genuine need for a mechanized solution to the leaf-removal problem. Because there wasn’t any problem. Now we do have a problem, but it isn’t leaves, it’s these infernal machines.

Gasoline-driven leafblowers have been banned in scores of California counties, including Los Angeles and hundreds of municipalitiesacross the U.S. and Canada, and none of the horrors that were predicted by landscapers - untidy lawns, escalating costs, declining property values - has ever come to pass.

The phenomenal proliferation of leafblowers has far more to do with marketing than efficiency; indeed, when all the real costs are factored in their alleged benefits don’t even begin to justify their penalties and risks. Cheap to produce, priced to sell, and aggressively marketed, the real function of leafblowers is to rake in money for the huge corporations that manufacture them.

By Winifred Rosen, Guest Commentator
DrWeil.com News

Winifred Rosen is co-author with Dr. Weil of “Chocolate to Morphine: Everything You Need to Know about Mind-Altering Drugs.

 
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